2011 Finalist: TARA Akshar+
“TARA Akshar+ has significant proven results, it is strongly community-led and is market-driven. The problem it addresses is incredibly important, and a platform for powerful future innovation” – Andrew Zolli, 2011 Juror
– Andrew Zolli, 2011 Juror
Delivering a scalable solution to adult illiteracy through a highly innovative programme using sophisticated learning techniques and memory hooks, through minimally trained, computer-aided instructors. It enables almost anyone to read, write and do simple arithmetic with more than 95% success rate in just seven weeks of 2 hour classes daily.
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Critical Need Being Addressed
Despite several decades of programs to introduce literacy among adults, more than 50% of the women and girls in many poor countries, including India, cannot read, write or count, preventing them from participating fully in the social, economic and political processes of the modern State.
Description of Initiative
The TARA Akshar+ program is an initiative of the Development Alternatives Group, a social enterprise dedicated to accelerating sustainable development in the global South, particularly India. Eradication of poverty, stabilizing the climate and conserving biodiversity all need active citizen participation, which requires empowered individuals and communities, capable of acquiring the knowledge they need in a rapidly changing world.
In the four years since DA initiated development of TARA Akshar+ it has trained more than 57,000 women to read, write and make simple calculations across 7 of the most illiterate states in India. A remarkable feature of this programme is its extraordinary pass rate: more than 95%. This is due to highly effective and standardized teaching methods using computers and entertaining heuristics, a solid delivery system, extremely short duration of courses, and convenience of location, timings, etc.
TARA Akshar + is able to deliver complete literacy and numeracy in just 98 contact hours over a period of 49 days by using a totally new mix of advanced memory techniques like memory hooks through animated movies and strong learning reinforcement mechanisms. Specifically, it uses:
• "Laubach Method", which associates each letter to the shape of an object, the name of which BEGINS with that letter.
• Innovative visual imagery and video gaming concepts.
• Cartoon animations, flash cards, games and easy to recall story lines.
• A combination of aural, visual and kinesthetic memory techniques to aid letter-sound retention.
• A careful combination of numeric and literary study.
• Only high school graduate instructors, trainers and quality monitors.
• Constant monitoring of quality of delivery and literacy outcomes.
• High numbers of willing learners because of convenient locations and timings.
• Reaching out to people in difficult and remote areas through the use of laptops.
Resources + Updates Since Entering The Challenge in October 2010
-Project Press Release: PDF
-BFI Summary Assessment
-WEBSITE: TARA Akshar
Updates since entering the challenge:
• The TARA Akshar+ program has been evaluated in three different locations of Northern India by the Department of Education of the Ministry of Human Resources Development. The program passed the evaluation parameters successfully and is now in the process of being incorporated under the National Literacy Mission, Government of India as an ICT based solution to adult literacy.
• The programme has also been approved in principle by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India to make 35,000 women tribal women functionally literate in eight districts of Madhya Pradesh in Central India. A pilot of the program for 500 women has already started in one of these districts.
• In addition to these more than 1000 additional women were made literate in last six months under various programmes including Global Knowledge Partnership, SWISS Agency for Development and Cooperation , UNDP etc.
PEOPLE: TARA Akshar+
Nearly 30 years of delivering Eco-solutions
The Development Alternatives Group is a premier research organisation, with a deep understanding of the rural market and a strong presence in the Indian heartland. Its existence has been a credible and visible one – nationally and internationally in addressing poverty challenges in a climate sensitive environment.
A pioneer in sustainable development and the first social enterprise in India, Development Alternatives (DA) envisions a world where every citizen can live in security, with a dignified job and an assured income. We believe that the key to achieving this is the creation of sustainable livelihoods in large numbers - providing the rural poor with jobs with decent income, giving meaning and dignity to life, producing goods and services for the local market and preserving the environment.